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Devin Nunes: Trump 'Right' on Wiretap Claims 'to Some Degree'

Image: Devin Nunes: Trump 'Right' on Wiretap Claims 'to Some Degree'
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By    |   Wednesday, 22 Mar 2017 05:03 PM

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said Wednesday that President Donald Trump "to some degree is right" that he was placed under surveillance by the Obama administration through a tactic called "incidental collection."

"The bottom line here is that President Trump, to some degree, is right that he did end up in some intelligence reports — and I don't think he knew about it," the California Republican told Jake Tapper on CNN.

Tapper then asked whether Trump was right when he said that former President Barack Obama ordered his Trump Tower telephones to be wiretapped.

"He's not right about that, Jake," Nunes responded.

"You just said he was right," Tapper retorted. "What was he right about?"

"It does appear his name and people, others ended up, in intelligence reports," Nunes said. "You can make what you want of it, but most people would say that is surveillance."

Nunes, 43, who was first elected to the House in 2002, was interviewed after telling reporters that he had briefed President Trump on the information collected during the surveillance method during the transition process.

However, he said that the data did not involve the Intelligence Committee's continuing investigation into Russian-related activities during the election — and that it did not support the president's claims that he was "wiretapped" by Obama.

"What I saw has nothing to do with Russia and nothing to do with the Russian investigation," Nunes said after leaving the White House. "It has everything to do with possible surveillance activities — and the president needs to know this.

"These reports are out there. I have a duty to tell him that."

President Trump said Wednesday that he felt "somewhat" vindicated by Nunes' comments.

"I somewhat do," he told reporters after meeting with members of the Congressional Black Caucus. "I must tell you, I somewhat do.

"I appreciated the fact that they found what they found," he added. "I somewhat do."

Nunes said earlier Wednesday that the communications of Trump campaign officials, and possibly the president himself, might have been "monitored" after the election.

The intercepted communications do not appear to be related to the FBI investigation into contacts between Trump associates and Russia — and Nunes said he believed the data were collected legally.

However, "what I've read bothers me," Nunes said outside the White House. "I think it should bother the president himself and his team, because I think some of it seems to be inappropriate.

"Until we get the information to the committee, it's hard to really say until we see it in its totality."

But when asked whether the data confirmed Trump's initial wiretap claims, Nunes flatly ruled it out.

"No, no, no," he insisted. "That didn't happen. I've said this for many, many weeks — including the day after.

"That never happened. That never happened."

The data also do not indicate who sought the surveillance.

"We don't know who sent the taskings," Nunes said, using intelligence parlance. "We're going to try to find that out."

Incidental collection is allowed under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and is authorized by the U.S. attorney general and director of national intelligence.

Under the procedure, spy agencies can "sweep up" the telephone and Internet data of U.S. residents who communicate with foreign targets.

The secret FISA court allows the surveillance in accordance with the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

The intelligence agencies can then search those communications for evidence of crimes, even if they are not related to terrorism, and they protect the identities of U.S. citizens by "minimizing" their information.

However, if the names are revealed, it is called "unmasking" — and they are only disclosed if it is vital to the intelligence.

Therein lies the issue, Nunes told reporters.

"This is information that was brought to me that I thought the president needed to know about incidental collection," the chairman said. "The president himself and others in the Trump transition team were clearly put into intelligence reports that ended up at this White House and across a bunch of other agencies.

"I thought it was important for the president to know this," he added. "I came down here as soon as I could."

"This is normal intelligence reporting," Nunes reiterated. "Normal intelligence reporting.

"The question is, should he himself or others — should they have been put into these reports.

"I don't know the answer to that yet," the congressman said. "We're going to try to get to the bottom of it."

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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said Wednesday that President Donald Trump "to some degree is right" that he was placed under surveillance by the Obama administration through a tactic called "incidental collection."
devin nunes, trump, right, wiretap, claims
Wednesday, 22 Mar 2017 05:03 PM
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